Bakushu Club Popeye

<< 2007-06-26 20:12 >>

At Popeye

That there exists a place on this planet where you can choose between 40 different Japanese microbrewed beers on tap, some of them even real ale on cask, seems too good to be true, but it isn't. Bakushu Club Popeye in Tokyo actually does this. It serves reasonable western food, too, so we spent two entire evenings there, trying out the different beers.

If you rate pubs by the number of obscure beers they serve, Popeye has to be near the top, or perhaps even at the top, of the list. It doesn't do poorly in terms of quality, either. Looking at my notes I see that out of the top 10 Japanese beers I've tried I had half of them at Popeye.

Popeye is located in Ryogoku, a part of Tokyo by the Sumida river, which is the center of the world of sumo wrestling. It has the Kokugikan sumo arena, many sumo stables and restaurants, etc. And, of course, the best pub in Japan.

Negotiating the menu can be quite tricky, since there are 40 choices, and the only things you can steer by, not knowing the breweries, is the beer type and the alcohol content. Knowing that a beer was made by Swan Lake, Echigo, or Iwatekura doesn't really help you much. Still, this is half the fun, and you quickly find out which breweries are the best. And in any case the owners have done their job well; there are no really bad choices on the menu.

Mural from Kokugikan

The menu had quite a few barley wines, English-style beers with alcohol strengths from 10% and up. Some of these were vintage beers, dating back to 2000. These were wisely sold only in smaller glasses, which both preserves the vintage beers for longer, and prevents patrons from getting blind drunk just because they want to taste interesting beers. (This is even more of an issue for the Japanese, who lack some of the genes that help us westerners break down alcohol rapidly.)

We had Naito-san with us (of course), and so in the course of the evening he told the waiters that we were Norwegian. This caused one of the waiters to come over with a with a wooden crate with the Nøgne Ø logo on it. He couldn't speak much English, but wanted to know if I knew what this was, and was very happy to hear that I did. He then wanted to know if I knew "Chetil-san," meaning Kjetil Jikiun, the head brewer. He was very impressed to hear that I knew of him, and that "Chetil-san" was famous in Norway because of Nøgne Ø. (That was perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part, but it was impossible to explain more carefully.) The waiter was proud to tell me that "Chetil-san" came to Popeye three times (a year? in all? who knows?).

On the strength of this I was given a gold member's card to Popeye, so now I can get their beers at reduced prices every time I go there. Well. I hope I get to use it. Popeye is one of the best pubs I have been to.

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Yngvar - 2007-07-16 14:21:58

Kjetil normally goes to Tokyo several times a year, as he pilots SAS airplanes to both Tokyo, the US and other remote places. I guess the waiter therefore meant 3 times a year.

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